[Taxacom] Mona Lisa Smile

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Wed Jul 26 11:10:01 CDT 2006

     Exactly!  A broad paraphyletic Family Pongidae has provided a stable 
and useful taxon for a very, very long time, and it has survived repeated 
testing over the decades, and the ONLY test that it didn't pass was the 
artificial holophyly test.

     Formally chopping up Pongidae has does nothing but create instability 
and confusion.  John Grehan wants to cladify it to reflect the orangutan 
theory, while most strict cladists cladify it various other ways to relect 
the chimpanzee theory.  And little attention has been given to a third 
possibility (that Hominidae split off between orangutans and a Gorilla-Pan 

     My point is that all three of these possibilities are compatible with a 
traditional paraphyletic Pongidae, and the three main possible phylogenies 
can be reflected by differing codings within it.  Better to have a stable 
Family Pongidae for EVERYONE, and let the cladists argue over the coding of 
how the genera split off within it.  If some people think mine is a "glass 
house" position so be it, but even if it was, a well-built glass house is 
still more stable than a house of cards.  The problem is that the strict 
cladists are so convinced that they have discovered the holy grail that they 
are blinded to the havoc they are creating (and that it is only going to get 
worse if they continue).
   -----Ken Kinman

>From: "Thomas G. Lammers" <lammers at uwosh.edu>
>To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Mona Lisa Smile
>Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2006 08:07:10 -0500
>At 06:13 AM 7/26/2006, pierre deleporte wrote:
> >I my view, the worst "divorce from reality" (I would rather say: "divorce
> >from realism") could well be the lasting belief in the Holy Grail of a
> >unique, universal, optimal-for-all-purposes classification.
>Of course not, for the simple reason that (as I constantly remind my
>students) A Classification Is A Hypothesis.  As such, classifications are
>constantly being tested, a process that either supports them or fails to
>support them.  That's why taxonomy IS science.
>That does not mean that we cannot arrive at a classification that withstand
>repeated testing and so achieve a modicum of long-term stability and broad
>utility, perhaps to the point where we would call it a "theory."
>Tom Lammers
>Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

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